Devotions

Monthly Archives: November, 2018

Romans 2:6-8

Hell and Heaven | Devotion #5: Romans 2:6-8
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“Who will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil…” Romans 2:6-9 NKJV

On July 8, 1741, American preacher Jonathan Edwards stood before the Enfield Connecticut congregation and read the words of what is now one of the most famous sermons in history. The sermon was entitled, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” In it, Edwards vividly describes the severity of Hell, the immediate danger every mortal, sinful person is in, and the reality of eternity. This sermon found its mark and had a tremendous effect on the congregation that morning. Those present that day reported shrieks and screams from the unconverted as they realized their lost condition and the seriousness that they could at any moment enter eternity. The reality of an eternal Hell shook both the church there and the church across America for many years to come.

One of the most shocking pictures Edwards paints is that of eternity being unending. He said,

“It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite, horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see along forever a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul. And you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages in wrestling with this almighty, merciless vengeance. And then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point (moment) to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite.”

Without question, this is why Jesus warned us so often against Hell. He spoke of it continually. Indeed, He came to rescue us from that dreadful place, to snatch us from those merciless and eternal flames. It is also why every apostle throughout the New Testament pleads with us to trust Christ, lest we send ourselves there.

In Romans 2:6-8, the Apostle Paul describes the difference between Heaven and Hell. He says that eternal life, blessing, and honor will be given to those who are born again. Eternal life is promised to those who have trusted in the work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. But to those who have not, to those who have (every single day of their lives) refused to trust Christ, rejected the truth and spent a lifetime serving themselves, they will suffer an eternity of the indignation and wrath of God. This will mean unending, unyielding tribulation and anguish. There will not be a moment of release from this. There will not be a moment of rest. There will not be a moment of relief. Hell is described as a worm that devours and never stops, and fires that are never extinguished.

Someone at this point might say, “How could God allow this?” But that is the wrong question. For God has done everything possible to keep a person from this. What more could He have done? He came; He died for our sins in our place on our cross. He went through the horrors of Hell and was raised from the dead to give us life. No, the question must never be, “How can God allow this?” The question can only be, “Why would anyone refuse Him?” “Why would anyone refuse His offer to rescue them?”

God does not send people to Hell. God sent His Son to keep us from Hell. People send themselves to Hell by refusing the Son and His sacrifice. This is something they must do every single day of their lives until they finally confirm it with their last breath. 

For at the end of the day, eternity is where we get forever what we proved in our lives what we wanted most. Heaven belongs to those who love Him and have run to Him to be saved. It is those who want to spend eternity with the One who has rescued them, for He is their treasure. 

Hell belongs to all those who all their lifetime refused and rejected Him. They will get forever what they proved by their lives they wanted most, existence apart from God.

Revelation 21:8

Hell and Heaven | Devotion #4: Revelation 21:8
Caleb Combs| Gathering Pastor

Eternity = Everlasting, infinity, time without end, timelessness, or in the words of Squints Palledorous, “FOR…EV…ER!” This is the most sobering concept in the Christian walk. The Bible is clear that if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will spend eternity with Him. Eternity will be a place like no other, a place not built by the hands of man. It is a place with streets of gold, feasts celebrating the Lamb, and a house or mansion prepared specifically for me by the Master Builder Himself. Heaven will be a place where we celebrate what God has done for us and worship Him. I definitely can not say what every detail will look like, but I can tell you it will be a celebration like no other.  I love this quote from Pastor John McArthur, “Heaven is a realm of unsurpassed joy, unfading glory, undiminished bliss, unlimited delights and unending pleasures.” Sounds awesome!

The other side of the sobering concept is the realization of the alternative place of Heaven – Hell. It is a horrific place. The Bible tells us it is a place of darkness and death, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is a place separate from the light of Jesus and absent of all hope.  Revelation 21:8 describes it as a place that burns with fire and sulfur. Some may toss Hell and its description aside as imaginary, but it is a real place, just like Heaven. For those that never receive Christ as their Lord and Savior and never confess their sins, this is the place they will end up in for eternity. I do not say that with pride of happiness, but of fear and desperation knowing that millions of people around the world are heading for a future placed in Hell. I struggle even to type this, knowing that every second someone dies around the world, and they end up in one of two places, eternity with Christ in Heaven or eternity in Hell separated from Christ. There is no middle ground. There are no other options.

Revelation 21:8 tells us, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” 

Reading this verse, you may think, “Hey, I have lied. Does that mean I am going to Hell?” Or fill in your sin in place of lying and you and I are doomed to Hell. However, God does not look at us this way. When we are saved we become co-heirs, royal, holy, and children of the Almighty God. The Bible tells us that He has forgiven the sins of the past, present, and future. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” That word reconciliation means to restore, and our relationship with Christ has been restored. We are in good standing with God, not by our works or deeds, but what Jesus did for us on the cross. When God looks at us, He sees that our debt has been paid through Christ, and counts us as righteous. 

You may see yourself as a liar, coward, faithless, sexually immoral, or any of the other sins listed in Revelation 21:8, but if you are a child of God, that is not how He sees you. He views you through the lens of the blood of the Lamb that paid our debt; we are free and have hope for eternity with Him. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are a royal priesthood and do not let the enemy tell you differently. You have an assured hope in Heaven. If you do not know Christ or you are not sure, please take this time to cry out to God in your need for Him. If I can personally help you with this, please do not hesitate to ask. There is a Heaven and a Hell, and God has made a way for you to go to Heaven. Will you follow?

John 3:36

Hell and Heaven | Devotion #3: John 3:36
Jayson Combs| Family Pastor

Are we there yet?

When you hear the words “eternal life,” what immediately comes to your mind?   John, the disciple, speaks of eternal life or everlasting life more than anyone else in the Bible. He uses it 18 times in the Gospel of John and six more times in the Epistle 1 John.  

John states in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” We see here as in other verses that eternal life is through no one else other than Jesus Christ.  In John 6:68, Peter answers Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (KJV).  Jesus tells us in John 10:28, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand” (KJV). Jesus is the way, the only way to eternal life.

I do believe there is some confusion though among believers when it comes to eternal life. In Daniel 12:2 it says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Life is everlasting no matter who you are. For some, it will be spent with the King of kings, for others under the wrath of God.  

The other problematic view I see with many when it comes to eternal life is the focus on the destination. Yes, it is wonderful to know that Heaven is our home. It is exciting to think about Jesus who has gone and who is preparing a place for us. However, John tells us that eternal life is not just about the destination, it is about the trip. He writes in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life is about a wonderful walk with Jesus that starts here on earth.

Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  When I was a child, our family vacation was always to Myrtle Beach. I can remember jumping into our great Pontiac 6000 and heading south. Flying was not an option, we drove.  I can remember thinking how much I could not wait to get there so our vacation could begin. Thinking back on those amazing times makes me pause. I look back and think that vacation did not begin when we got there, it began when we left. I fondly remember those times in the car, the places that we stopped, and the adventures that we had. Now having a family of my own, we often have chosen to drive instead of flying.  

Remember eternal life is not just the destination of Heaven.  It is about the amazing walk with Jesus Christ.  

John 3:16

Hell and Heaven | Devotion #2: John 3:16
James Clouse| Student Pastor

Before I became a pastor, I worked in sales. I worked in numerous hotels and worked my way from a front desk salesperson to manager of corporate sales. During that time, I would spend all my time and energy explaining why people needed to spend time and money at my hotel. It could be because it was more affordable, more comfortable, more perks, or because of the amazing service. 

I am not a salesman anymore. God has called me to explain to people of the world where they should stay. As a pastor, I want to help you know where you should spend eternity. I have the perfect verse to help us understand what that means and how to get there. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 

God gave His only son Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the world, to help us understand where to spend eternity. This is not an overnight business stay at a hotel. This is not a week somewhere on vacation. Where we go when we die is for the rest of time. 

If you are one of those people who reads this and recognizes that you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and know where you are going when you die, fantastic! But I also realize that there are many that are going to read this that are not certain of where they are going when they die. Let me help you. 

Believe in what Jesus has done for us. The one who is without sin died for all those that have sinned. The one who knew no sin in His life gave up that life for us to have a relationship with God His Father. Those that do not recognize the truth of what Jesus did for us, die and spend eternity in Hell. Those amenities are horrible, the service is horrendous, and let me tell you it is not comfortable. 

Romans 10:9 says, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If you are now one of those people reading this that wants that relationship with Jesus Christ, you need to believe it with all of your heart. Believe that Christ has died for you and your sins. Believe that Jesus not only died, but resurrected from the grave to defeat sin, death, and Hell. Come to another believer and tell them what you have done. Confess your relationship with a public display of baptism or tell your pastor. 

Then you will be able to spend eternity with your Father where I do not need to sell the amenities or the service to you. You will be spending eternity with the Father. He is the one who loves us, created us, and gave up everything for us. 

Revelation 14:10-11

Hell and Heaven | Devotion #1: Revelation 14:10-11
Ryan Story| Student Pastor

Surely, If I Knew.

We who know Jesus, have an amazing life ahead of us. All of us who have cried out for His grace and love have had our eternity changed. Regardless of how good or bad your life’s circumstances have been, our eternity with Jesus is going to be indescribable! This is where you can cue the song by MercyMe “I Can Only Imagine.” For those part of Christ’s church, we all know the gift that is awaiting us one day. As amazing as that will be, there is always that sobering feeling in the back of my mind that screams, “What about those who do not?” Most estimate that 33% of the world would profess that they are Christ followers. Without even breaking that percentage down by who are truly following Christ, that means that only one in three people are going to be able to experience Heaven. Sixty Six percent of the world will be on the other side of eternity, Hell. By simple math, that means in just our lives, 5 billion people who currently live at the same time as us, are heading to an eternity that is without Christ Jesus. 

Revelation 14:11 says, “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” I cannot think of any worse description of a place to spend eternity. Sadly, we do not live our lives as if this is the eternal destination for the majority. Surely, if Christ-followers knew that people were destined for such a horrendous fate, we would step in and do something. Unfortunately, we all know we are too selfish, too self-involved, and too self-motivated to want to stop someone from this fate.  

In the book, When A Nation Forgets God, written by Dr. Erwin Lutzer, the author tells the following story from an eyewitness in Germany during the Holocaust:

“I lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. We

heard stories of what was happening to Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it because what could we do to stop it. A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance, and then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars. Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews in route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us. We knew the time the train was coming, and when we heard the whistle blow, we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more.” Then the eyewitness shared with Pastor Lutzer, “Although years have passed, I still hear the train whistle in my sleep. God forgive me, forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians and yet did nothing to intervene.”

How can a Christian sit idly as we know for a fact that our family members, neighbors, co-workers, and friends will spend eternity with no rest and their torment will be visible forever and ever? As Christians, we are not responsible for the outcome of them coming to know Jesus, the only thing we can be responsible for is opening our mouths and warning people about the fate that awaits them. Surely, if we knew where people would spend eternity, it would change the way we live our daily lives.  



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